Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, has received the Annual Report of the Board of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) with a charge to the Authority to invest massively in Housing Development nationwide as a means of further addressing the challenge of unemployment in the country.
Fashola, who spoke on Tuesday in Abuja after receiving the Annual Report of the Board of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) in his office, particularly urged the Authority to replicate nationwide, its ongoing 700 units, 10,000 employees Abuja Mass Housing project in Zuba saying such an investment, if replicated in the 36 states of the Federation and Abuja, would create an ecosystem of opportunities for jobs and industrialization.
Noting that through the project FHA has identified appropriately the critical role that Housing Development could play in responding to and solving some of the problems and challenges currently faced in the country, the Minister declared, “If you go to a site where over 700 housing units are being built and 10,000 people are benefiting and getting employment there, you are really then beginning to attack the social issues of exclusion, unemployment, joblessness and restoring the dignity of the human being”.
“And so if we can have 10,000 people employed in each of the 36 states and the FCT, clearly we will be pushing the needle in a significant way. With SMEs making paints, wires, roofing sheets and all of the building materials, we will really be creating opportunities for labourers who use them, transporters, food vendors and others; it is a huge ecosystem of activities”, he said.
Fashola also expressed delight that the one bedroom and two bedroom apartment housing units not only conform to the policies set out in the Ministry regarding building for the low and middle income “and the young generation of Nigerians who are really on the go, so to speak”, adding that the Banking Sector would also benefit when houses would be sold and bought.
Pledging that his Ministry would continue to compliment the efforts of the FHA with what it is doing presently and what the Federal Mortgage Bank is doing to open up opportunities to allow for mortgage lending, the Minister commended the Lawal Shuaibu-led Board of the FHA for coming up with a report of its activities within one year of its inauguration.
“I cannot recall ever reading that a Board of the FHA in the recent past ever submitted an annual report after one year. I am highly delighted that within a year of the inauguration of this Board, the Lawal Shuaibu-led Board of the FHA is able to look back while it projects forward to say let us go and report to those who appointed us. It is a strong vote, a strong validation of the Muhammadu Buhari administration to accountability; what gets measured and reported gets done”, he said.
Thanking the Board Chairman and the Members, Fashola, who promised not only to read the report but also escalate same as well as “its very salient points to the President for further consideration and action or directives he may wish to give”, urged all other parastatals within the Ministry, who have not so submitted a formal report, to take this as a challenge.
“We know what they do but it is important now that this becomes our DNA for reporting and documenting”, the Minister said adding that the Ministry has documented what it has done in the last three and a half years and would be submitting the report in a formal way, to the Policies and Projects Committee set up by Mr. President and also to members of the public in a matter of days.
Describing it as a good start, the Minister said it would be a good thing for Ministries to give reports of their activities from time to time to provide reference materials for incoming heads of the Ministries pointing out that while Ministries don’t change, the actors’ reports would provide reference materials to benchmark.
Earlier in his remarks before submitting the Annual Report, which covers the period March 2018 to March 2019 to the Minister, the Board Chairman, Senator Shuaibu said the report was aimed at highlighting the efforts the Board has made in its first year towards injecting new ideas and designing strategies for improving governance and service delivery in the Agency.
The Chairman, who echoed the Minister’s earlier submission that the report was the first of its kind by any Board of the Authority in recent times, added that the Report was divided into four sections with the first and second sections highlighting the wrong premise upon which far reaching decisions and steps were taken or arrived at in the past while details of those positions and actions taken form the contents of sections three and four of the Report.
He said the historical antecedents and continuous happenings in the agency for the last forty years would lead the Minister, while reading the report, to arriving at the same conclusion with the Board that the FHA would have done much better for Nigerians in service delivery.
“It was rather embarrassing to document that the annual average production of the FHA over the years was not more than one thousand housing units prior to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari”, he said adding that previous policy somersault, inefficient operational capacity and the incessant precarious problem solving strategies were identified as major impediments towards the full actualization of the mandate of the Federal Housing Authority.
According to the Chairman, “The Board has, therefore seized the prevailing opportunity to begin to help this important government Agency towards retracing its step and focus towards, not only in providing housing but joining the Housing and Construction Industry in contributing to the development of a robust national economy through job creation and extractive industry related to building materials in the housing value chain”.
Also present at the brief but impactful presentation ceremony at the Conference Hall of the Ministry in Mabushi were the Permanent Secretary, Works and Housing sectors of the Ministry, Mr Mohammed Bukar and other Members of the Board as well as top functionaries of the Ministry.